Thursday, December 8, 2016

Year End Tax Tips

Year End Tax Tips

Time flies during the holiday season and before we know it December 31st will sneak up on us. Here are some helpful tips from that will help you get every tax break coming to you for 2016.

1. Give a little
If you want to claim charitable donations on your 2016 tax return, the deadline is December 31. Remember, the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit is available until 2017 so take advantage of it if you can. (This credit boosts the tax savings for a new or lapsed donor.) To qualify for an extra 25% federal credit, a donation must be in cash and only the first $1,000 qualifies. To qualify as a first-time donor, neither the taxpayer nor his or her spouse can have claimed a donation credit since 2007.

2. Pay attention to the date
Your province of residence is decided on December 31 of the tax year and it determines your provincial tax rate for the year. “So if you live in Alberta for 11 months of the year and then move to Ontario in December—where tax rates are higher—your tax will be be calculated based on Ontario tax rates,” says tax expert Cleo Hamel. “And that means you may have to pay more taxes than you originally thought.” Hamel recommends that if you plan to move to another province, you should take some time to look at what the difference is in tax rates between the two provinces and time your move accordingly. “If you’ve already moved, check the tax rate of your new province of residence and compare it to the rate you paid while living in another province earlier in the year. “That will give you a good idea of if you’ll have to pay a couple of extra thousand dollars in taxes and if so, you can plan for it now.”

3. Plan your TFSA withdrawals
If you’re planning to take funds out of your Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), you may want to withdraw it before the end of the year. Then you can replace the amount in 2017. 

4. Explore tax loss selling
“A lot of stock investors hate selling at a loss because they’ve been conditioned to buy low and sell high,” says Hamel. “But selling at a loss can be advantageous, especially in high-income years. And if you sold a stock that did well in 2016, then it may be worthwhile to review your portfolio now to see if you can take a loss on another stock to help offset your capital gain and reduce your tax liability. “Losses can be written off against any gain in the year they are incurred, back three years, or forward indefinitely,” says Hamel. Just remember, that any transaction needs to be settled on or before December 23 in order to qualify for your 2016 tax return.

5. Use these credits before it’s too late
This is the last year students will be able to claim Textbook and Education Tax Credits. But remember, starting in 2016, students will not have to repay their student loans until they are earning at least $25,000. 

Want a little extra help organizing your savings before the year end.
 Contact our office today  (905)332-6633

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Value Of Planning Ahead

    The Value Of Planning Ahead

You can't predict the future but you can plan for it.

A job loss. A prolonged illness. A sudden death. The decision to go back to school, or travel the world -these are just a few of the unexpected life events that can send you-and your finances-

Households with a plan are more satisfied with their current financial situation, more comfortable with their current debt load and feel more confident that they will have enough money to retire comfortably than households with no plan. 

Such households are also more likely to enjoy annual vacations and the occasional splurge. They feel confident that they are making the right financial choices. Choices made with the help of a financial security advisor.

Clear, professional, financial advice can provide you with a financial road-map for life. So you can stop worrying about money and live the life you want with confidence.

Plan ahead. Be prepared. Ensure you're ready for anything.
Let us help you plan ahead.

Contact our office today (905)332-6633 or email us at

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Capital gains and tax strategies

Under new rules (effective as of October 2016), Canadians are now required to report the sale of a principal residence. For most, this new rule is nothing more than a compliance exercise, albeit, one shadowed by the threat of unrestricted audits and sizable penalties.

To help maximize the capital gains tax strategies under this new rule MoneySense has given us a list of tips to keep in mind.

- Report each sale
- A change in use is considered a sale
- You can still use strategies to minimize taxes
- Keep detailed records
- Be mindful if  you own property through a trust
- Don't be surprised by these changes
- No more 1+ for foreign buyers

Tip #1: You must remember to report each sale

The new rules, announced in early October 2016, will require you to report every single property sale on your tax return. That means in your 2016 income tax return (due sometime in April 2017) you will need to report the sale of property, even if you don’t end up owing tax on the sale.

Fail to report the sale—whether intentionally or unintentionally—and you risk an audit, penalties and interest charges and the ability to shelter future home sales through the principal residence exemption (PRE).

Tip #2: A change in use is also considered a sale

Even if you haven’t actually put your home up for sale, the CRA will deem it to be sold if you change the use of the property. Take, for example, you decide to buy a new, larger home for your growing family but want to hold onto your current property and rent it out. The CRA considers this a “deemed disposition”—you haven’t actually transferred the ownership to another person, but you have changed the primary use of the property, from your family home to a rental property. As such, the CRA will consider the home sold, for tax purposes, at the current fair market value.

Tip #3: You can still use strategies to minimize taxes

For years, many Canadians minimized the amount of capital gains tax owed by strategically designating when each property was their principal residence, for tax purposes. To make this strategy work, however, the properties can not be income-producing during the years they are designated as a principal residence.

“Canadian families with a home and a cottage owned personally will be impacted by these new rules, as they’ll need to report the sale of each property,” explains John Sliskovic, private client services tax leader at EY LLP. “A family could still optimize the benefit of the principal residence exemption by designating the property with the greatest accrued gain as the principal residence.”

Example: Say you and your spouse bought a home in 2001 for $250,000. In 2002, you received an inheritance and bought a cottage about two hours away from Toronto for $200,000. For the next 14 years, until 2016, you and your spouse lived full-time in your city home and spent summers and holidays at the cottage. In that time, your family home appreciated and is now worth $650,000. During the same time period, the cottage’s fair market value rose to $725,000. Now you want to retire and part of that transition is to simplify your life by selling both properties and downsizing. If you needed to sell both properties this year, you’d end up having to pay capital gains tax on at least one—designate your city home and the exemption would save you from paying $60,000 in tax*; designate your cottage and the exemption would save you from paying $78,750 in tax. Already strategically choosing to shelter the property with the highest appreciation would save you $18,750 in tax. That’s not chump change. Talk to a tax specialist and you could further fine-tune this strategy to save even more on your taxes.

Tip #4: But now you have to keep much better records

While the new requirement to report all property sold in 2016 and in future years won’t impact strategic tax planning, it will put more onus on property owners to establish and keep better records. It will mean diligently keeping all receipts and invoices—an important aspect of real estate investment, particularly if you want to increase your adjusted cost base (ACB) on the property, and save tax later on when you go to actually sell the property.

Tip #5: Big changes if you own property through a trust

Families that own a home or cottage through a trust may be impacted in a different way. “The proposed changes limit the types of trusts that are eligible to designate a property as a principal residence,” says Sliskovic.

Example: a trust that is no longer eligible to designate the property as a principal residence under the new rules, but owns that property at the end of 2016, must separate its gain into two components: The gain accrued to 31 December 2016 may potentially be sheltered by the principal residence exemption, and the gain accruing from the beginning of 2017 to the date of disposition that will be subject to tax.

“Families that have utilized trusts to hold principal residences will need to carefully review the amendments and make any necessary changes to ensure that their estate planning is still appropriate,” explains Kim G. C. Moody, director, Canadian Tax Advisory at Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP, in a recent legal brief.

“Non-residents who utilized trusts to acquire property and claim the principal residence exemption will also be greatly affected,” explains Moody. With these new rules the strategic use of such trusts and similar “planning is now effectively dead.”

Tip #6: House-flippers watch out!

For real estate investors that specialize in buying, renovating and then quickly selling homes—a process known as house-flipping—the new reporting requirements will force you to justify the “ordinarily inhabited” rule.

As Moody explains: “The property also has to be a “capital property” of the taxpayer.” This means that it cannot be part of the trade of the business. This obviously isn’t the case for house-flippers. “House flippers are not eligible for the principal residence exemption since properties that are quickly sold after the acquisition will likely not be considered capital property but rather inventory,” writes Moody. As a result, any profits from selling the house are no longer considered a capital gain but rather as business income and would not be entitled to the principal residence exemption.

Tip #7: Don’t be surprised by these changes

The recent changes to how sold property is reported to the Canada Revenue Agency is not the first time the principal residence exemption has been significantly changed. One of the more significant changes occurred in the early 1980s, when each spouse was no longer allowed to claim a principal residence exemption for different properties (thereby enabling married couples to “double-up” on the benefits of the principal residence exemption). As a result, all family units are restricted to sharing the principal residence exemption for every calendar year for properties disposed of after 1981. While Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has stated that the feds are in a holding pattern right now, when it comes to the country’s real estate markets, don’t be surprised if additional changes are announced in the near future. Right now, the Liberal government wants to assess how recent changes have impacted each property market; if the shifts they are anticipating don’t transpire, it’s quite possible the federal government, or other levels of governments, will consider additional measures.

Tip #8: No more 1+ for foreign buyers

Anyone who was a non-resident of Canada in the year a property is bought, will no longer be able to automatically add a year to the number of years the property is considered a principal residence. (Tax specialists often point out that every Canadian is allowed to claim the PRE for each year the property is owned, plus one, effectively decreasing the capital gains taxes owed, where applicable.) This new rule applies to any property sold (or deemed to have been sold) after October 3, 2016.

For the full article and more information on each tip visit

If you, or someone you know, wants more information on this topic, contact us today

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Peter's Story

Everyday Peter Andreana, a partner and financial advisor here at Continuum II Inc., works closely with clients to help them develop individual financial plans. Taking his own advice, Peter has developed an extensive portfolio of insurance policies that he would like to share with you.

For Peter, life insurance meant the difference between a financially secure estate and leaving behind debt and a deficient income for his wife and family. It is also a way to provide income in his retirement years.

Peter's first [small] life insurance policy was taken out in 2000. In 2009, Peter applied for and was issued his first significant whole life insurance policy at London life with an annual premium of $13,000.

In 2013, Peter took out another whole life policy with Great West Life.This policy has a $15,000 annual premium and provides substantially better cash values in the later years. Through the different policies Peter has a combined personal death benefit of $1.4 million of whole life insurance coverage.

Peter’s wife Laura also has her life insured. It started early on with a small ten year term life policy with a death benefit of $500,000, then a second whole life policy was added with an annual premium of $960. This smaller whole life policy provides a death benefit and generous cash values in later years.

Note: You can hold more than one type of life insurance policy at one time. Laura is a great example, as she holds both term and whole life insurance.

When their children were born, Peter and his mother jointly took out whole life insurance policies on the lives of each child. The kids policies (designed as a gift) provide great investment opportunities, as annual contributions from both Peter and his mom will leave the kids with generous savings via the policies cash values that could be accessed later in life. This money grows tax sheltered and creditor protected.

Both Peter and Laura also have critical illness insurance. This type of insurance provides a lump-sum of cash in the event of a critical illnesses. Peter's combined policies hold $120,000 benefit and Laura's a $65,000 benefit. Should either of them face a critical illness (eg: cancer, stroke, heart attack) the insurance will provide them with a cash payout that can be use to cover medical expenses, pay bills or anything they decide to do with it.

For another layer of protection, Peter also has disability insurance. If Peter becomes unable to work due to a disability the insurance provider will pay out a monthly benefit to supplement his income until age 65 or the disability ends. (Laura does not have T4 income, therefore she does not qualify for disability insurance.)

As a financial advisor, Peter understands how daunting all of this information can be. His choice to share his risk protection journey with you stems from his desire for current, and future, clients to know that he doesn't just give the advice, he lives it. Don't worry, you don't need do everything at once, these things take time. Start small and build on it overtime.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Life insurance

Whole life, or permanent, life insurance is more than just added security, it is a valuable tool that's well worth the cost. Here are a few reasons why you should consider getting permanent life insurance.

Coverage Is For Life 
  • Coverage does not expire, as long as you pay your premiums
Level Premiums
  • Your premiums stay the same for the life of the policy. There are also limited pay options where the policy is fully paid up in 15 or 20 years.
Tax Shelter
  • Investment growth inside the policy is sheltered from tax and can transfer to beneficiaries tax-free upon your death
Earn Dividends
  • Provide incredibly steady rates of return with low volatility.
Access To Equity/cash values
  • Cash values accumulate over time and can be utilized through withdrawals, policy loans or leveraging. People who max out their RRSPs and need another place to grow tax sheltered money should look here!
Eliminates debt at an important time. 
  • If you have debt, do your loved ones a huge favour and provide them with greater financial security by paying off your debt with life insurance proceeds when you’re gone.
Enhance And Equalize Your Estate
  • Leave a legacy without liquidating investments or use it as a tool to provide cash to the heir that didn't get the cottage for example.
Continuity Of Your Business
  • Provide a cash infusion to help provide your business and business partners the chance to grow and thrive in your absence. 
Want to know more? Contact us today and let us help you feel secure about your financial future.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Post-Secondary Savings

Do you know anyone heading to College or University this September? Here are some tips on how to financially prepare your student.

Help them make a budget: The first year of post-secondary education can be a shock financially, and will take some getting used to. Sit down with your student and make a list of expenses so they can plan ahead.

Suggest they open both a chequing and a savings account: It is important for students to learn not to spend every penny that they make. Encourage your student to split any income they may have between a chequing and a savings account.

Tell them to save their receipts: Come tax time, students could benefit from holding onto all those pesky receipts they have floating around in their wallets. Things like bus tickets for commuters and even textbooks can be applied to their income tax. It will also help your student have a detailed record of their spending to see where they can cut costs.

Encourage them to skip the Starbucks line: Buying lunch everyday or grabbing a $7 latte on their way to class is not financially savvy. Teach your student that it's okay to treat yourself here and there, but by avoiding the Starbucks line they can save big bucks.

Suggest they get a part time job: If they can manage, finding a part-time job is a great way for students to make a little extra cash while at school. Encourage them to look for jobs on campus, or tutoring jobs that can provide flexible hours.

Remind them that student loans are not a piggy bank: Remind them that their student loans are not to be used on anything else other than school. While it can be tempting to use some of that cash to buy a new pair of shoes, the debt isn't worth it.

Talk to them about the dangers of bad credit: Missed credit card payments can affect your students finances later in life. Teach them about the risks of late payments, and encourage them to pay off their balance at the end of each month.

Want extra helping guiding your students through their post-secondary journey? Contact us today, we are happy to help!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mutual funds 101

Do you invest in mutual funds? Mutual funds are a great foundation for your investment portfolio. Mutual funds provide the added value of access to a wide variety of investments that are backed by expert money managers who aim to manage risk and maximize your returns.

How much do these added values cost? The ongoing cost to maintain a mutual fund is worked into what is called MER (Management Expense Ratio). MER isn't paid directly, but rather built into the cost of the mutual fund itself.

What does the MER pay for? The cost of the MER is paid out to three teams of experts. The mutual fund company, the mutual fund dealer and your investment representative. Within these teams, a portion of the fee is further dispersed to smaller teams within their umbrella. All of these teams work together to help you get the most out of your investments. 

MER costs can vary, but overall the minimal cost is well worth the benefits it accompanies. Watch the clip below and see for yourself.

Need extra help with your investment portfolio? Call us today and let us help you build an investment portfolio that will help you to achieve your financial needs, goals and dreams.

Friday, June 24, 2016

What the BREXIT vote means for investors

As you may have heard, following Thursdays referendum, the people of Britain have voted to exit the European Union (EU). Given the unexpected nature of the vote, coupled with the uncertainty of the situation, this will most certainly cause some volatility in the Global Markets.  It is important to note that prior to Thursdays vote, the majority of experts felt that the chances of this separation happening were slim to none, leaving many unsure of whats to come. While we cannot predict the future, there is one thing to remember during times of uncertainty. That is, that markets tend to over-react, which tends to cause a dislocation between stock prices and their actual value.  This is when it really pays to have great ACTIVE MANAGEMENT, who can take advantage of these situations. 

As your financial advisors, we want to ensure you that, just as with any other significant event around the world, this is definitely not a time to panic. 
Please let us know if you would like to discuss this issue and/or your current investment holdings. To contact our offices directly, please email

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Financial Care: Caring For Your Aging Parents

Financial Care: Caring For Your Aging Parents

As the population ages, many Canadians will soon find themselves caring for their parents or asking their adult children for help. For some the change comes about gradually, but for others the onus happens suddenly. 

A common area of concern for adult children who are starting to watch their parents’ age is helping them to manage their financial situation. Learning to cope and manage someone else’s financial house including investments, real estate, cash flow, estate preservation and tax planning can be difficult.

Even if you feel as though your parents are well enough to tend to their own finances, it never hurts to keep a watchful eye.

To help prepare you and your family for managing what's to come, we suggest taking these proactive steps.

Consolidate accounts – If your parents have multiple bank accounts, try to reduce the number of accounts and institutions. This will help both you and your parent(s) stay organized, and could help them to save money in banking fees.

Review statements-If they’re comfortable sharing their financial details, your parents might be able to set you up to receive copies of their statements. Doing this adds an additional level of oversight and will allow you to watch for signs of financial abuse. Make sure to watch for large transactions, unusual money transfers, and unrecognized fees/pre-authorized payments.

Prepare a financial data organizer- Use the organizer to note account numbers and the names of their advisers. You may also choose to include details pertaining to any life insurance policies, information on safety deposit boxes and where to find important legal documents or account passwords.

Your financial organizer should be reviewed annually to make sure everything is up-to-date and that it reflects any changes that have been made. You may also want to consider talking with your parents sooner rather than later to ensure that you have all of the [correct] information, before they start to forget.

Need extra help? Continuum II has put together a personal records organizer just for you. This is a great tool to help you organize your own personal financial plan, or that of a loved one. Find it here.

Review their estate plan-It is important to ensure that wills, powers of attorney, personal directives and similar documents are up-to-date before it is too late. Even if they appear in good standing, it is important to walk through what would actually happen with assets on death, as not everything will pass through the estate and be addressed by a will.

Keeping your eye on your parents estate plan can also help with future fees and tax implications. Even for the most modest estate taxes and probate fees can reach into the tens of thousands, so it's best to plan ahead and take all proactive measures to reduce possible fees.

How can we help? With our team of experienced financial advisors we can provide you and your parents with additional care to help ensure that all of your financial needs are in order. 

Strategically, we can help develop a plan based on each unique situation to map out how your parents may be able to live comfortably in their older years. Similarly, we can identify investment, tax or estate strategies to help preserve your parents’ wealth.

Don't forget to check out Lise Andreana's book "Financial Care for Your Aging Parent" covering key decisions every adult child of an aging parent must make to provide financial support in a loving way to the people who matter most.

Have questions? Contact us today, we are here to help.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Critical Illness Insurance

A survey of Canadians across the country shows a disconnect between the likelihood of a critical illness and planning for the financial implications such an illness could bring to the average Canadian family. 

According to the survey,

Based on the above, more than half of Canadians are concerned about what may happen financially in the event of a critical illness. Despite the concern, three out of four Canadians are not physically, financially and emotionally prepared for a critical illness in the family.

As your financial advisors we are here to help secure your financial well-being and help you to plan for your future. If you are looking for additional protection on top of life insurance, Critical Illness Insurance is one of the things we suggest.

What is Critical Illness Insurance? This form of insurance pays out a lump sum cash payment should the insured be diagnosed with a critical illness. The money could then be used to help cover the costs associated with a life-altering illness, or replace lost income or any number of things.

Why consider Critical Illness Insurance?
  • Can help to reduce the stress a serious illness can take on your mental, physical and financial well-being.
  • The lump sum payout could be used for costs of living expenses including paying your mortgage or day to day bills.
  • It could help you to maintain your independence by assisting in the payment of treatments or services not covered by your typical heath care plan.
What is covered? Critical Illness Insurance, although it differs from plan to plan, typically covers up to 24 various illnesses and conditions including;
  • Cancer
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Alzheimer's
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Organ Transplants
  • Kidney Failure
  • Paralysis
Note: Coverage may also vary according to the degree of severity of, or conditions associated with, your illness or disease.

If you have never considered Critical Illness Insurance before, the time is now. Don't fall into the same gap that 50% of your fellow Canadians have. 

We want to help. Contact us today for more information or a quote.

Visit and take the quiz to see how your readiness stacks up.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Physical and Financial Health

A healthy life, helps for a healthy wallet.
Eating well can boost your overall health and help you feel your best. When you feel your best, it is reflected in all aspects of your life, and yes that includes your financial health.

Building a healthy lifestyle into your financial plan is important for everyone, whether you are retired or still working. We would like to highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle and it's overall impact on your financial health.

By working to maintain a healthy lifestyle it can help reduce the possibility of needing to reach into your own pocket to cover medical expenses that are not covered by a benefits plan. Extending a healthy lifestyle into the workplace, and into your home, can help boost your overall performance. Good nutrition and a healthy active lifestyle, can make you feel more energized, which can help relieve stress and improve cognitive functions. In feeling more alert and energized, you are also more likely to make better financial decisions.

To help you get started on boosting your overall health, our in-house nutrition guru Taylor Gray suggests taking these steps towards building a healthier lifestyle. 
  1. Pledge to make a small, nourishing change and stick with it, one meal at a time.
  2. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.
  3. Post your healthy eating goals in the kitchen and at your desk to keep healthy eating top of mind.
  4. Monitor your progress with a food diary or an app like eaTracker so you can stay on track.
  5. Share your goals. Enlist your family and friends to support, not sabotage, your new habits.
 Starting improving your overall health today.

Follow and 'like' us on Facebook to read all of Taylor's tips and see how we are implementing them in our office!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tax-Saving Tips

Tax-Saving Tips

No one likes to pay more taxes than they have to-but when was the last time you checked to make
sure you're taking full advantage of all the tax-saving opportunities that are available to you?

Here are a few ways that you could be saving on your taxes. This information is provided by our friends at Manulife Financial.

Deductions can help reduce your taxable income. The following outlines some different types of deductions that could help save you more.

- RRSP contributions: RRSP contributions can be deducted (up to the contribution limit)
- Investment expenses: You can deduct fees paid to manage or administer your non-registered investments.
- Daycare expenses: You can deduct qualifying child care expenses paid so you or your spouse can earn income, to go to school or conduct research.
- Relocation: You can claim moving expenses if you moved at least 40KM closer to your place of work, or school.

Tax credits work to reduce your taxes payable and can be received on the following.

- Are you a first time home buyer?  You could qualify for the First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit-worth up to $750.
- Medical expenses: You can claim eligible medical expenses for yourself, your spouse and dependent children under age 18-that were not paid for by a provincial or private plan.
- Do you give to charity? Donations over $200 receive a more generous credit, so consider pooling your donations with your spouse.
- Are you a student? If so, you can claim your tuition, textbooks and interest paid on student loans.
- Transit: If you pay monthly transit fees (i.e: bus pass)  you can claim the cost.
- Pension income: The first $2,000 of eligible pension income qualifies for the income tax credit.

If you have more questions about how you can save on your taxes, contact us today. We are here to help!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tax Return Checklist

With the this years Tax deadline (April 30th 2016) fast approaching, we want to ensure that you have everything you need to file. What exactly do you need to file your taxes? The following checklist has been complied by our friends at Manulife Financial to help you better prepare for filling your taxes. Do you have everything on the list?

If you have questions regarding anything on this checklist don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

Don't forget-this years Tax deadline is May 2nd 2016.

Friday, April 8, 2016

10 Traits To Look For In An Employee Benefits Advisor

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, employers are now looking for their advisors to do more than just provide them with a quote. To help us get an idea of what you are looking for EBN (Employee Benefits News) has complied a list of the top 10 things that employers look for when searching out an employee benefits advisors. Which ones hit the top of your list?

1. Tenure: An advisor who has been in business for a reasonably long time. Tenure provides a sense of reassurance that the advisor has witnessed changes in the industry and can better relate to your specific business.

2. Vision: Someone who sees the bigger picture while still able to maintain a realistic scope of vision.

3. Market Commitment: You need an advisor who has a commitment and deep domain knowledge of your industry and business size. A business with 200 employees will want to work with someone adept with mid-sized employers.

4. Communication: Seek out an advisor that can easily communicate complex issues in the simplest terms.

5. Independence: A quality advisor will have positive, strong relationships with insurance carriers.

6. Technology: It is no longer enough to know benefit plans, pricing, underwriting, features, claims or great communication methods; these have become givens. A top advisor will know reliable technologies, which will help with the employee life cycle.

7. Strategic Alliances: A truly valuable benefit advisor knows what is within their own discipline, and when to call in a specialist. 

8. Data: Look for an employee benefits advisor who recognizes valuable data.

9. Creativity: There is a difference between vision and creativity. Vision refers to identifying the trends of the industry, while creativity is coming up with new ways of dealing with trends. Pursue an advisor that can do both.

10. Challenge-Challenge-Challenge: A really good advisor will always challenge the "way we've always done it" conversations (considering an outside-the-box- option). Always look for someone who is willing to challenge insurance companies, their own thinking,  the client's thinking and the way it's always been done.

To read the full article click here

If you have any questions regarding your benefits plan-contact us today- we are everything you're looking for in a benefits advisor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

RRSP Contribution Slips, did you know..

Preparing for your taxes? Did you know...

RRSP contribution slips, used when preparing your tax returns, can start arriving as early as mid March, but the deadline for the RRSP receipts is May 1. You will often receive one for contributions made March to December, and then a second for January and a third RRSP receipt for February. (Assuming you made January and/or February contributions) It is up to you whether you want to use the January and February slips for the current tax year, or hold them for the next tax year.

If you have any questions regarding your RRSPs or your tax submissions, call our offices today.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

The following provides an overview of recent government decisions on the proposed plan design of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). The plan has been modelled based on the strengths and principles of the existing Canada Pension Plan (CPP). To view the technical bulletin released by the Ontario Ministry Of Finance, click here.

ORPP Plan Design a brief overview

Comparability Thresholds

Defined Contribution (DC) Plans or Registered Pension Plan (RPP)
  • A Defined Contribution plan is a registered pension plan that specifies the amount of contributions from employers and employees. Benefits are provided from accumulated contributions plus the return on the investment of these monies.
  • An analysis was conducted and it was determined that the minimum comparability threshold for a DC plan would be a total contribution of eight per cent of base salary earnings. Employers will also be required to contribute at least 50 per cent of the total minimum contribution, being at least four per cent.
Comparable Plans and Phase-In of ORPP Enrollment
  • The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Administration Corporation (ORPP AC) will contact all Ontario employers in early 2016 in writing to verify their existing pension plans and assess the coverage offered by employers to their employees.
  • Any employer with a registered workplace pension plan that exists on August 11, 2015, or that has begun the process of registering one, will be assigned to Wave 4. If the plan meets comparability thresholds by the time Wave 4 begins, the employer will not be required to enroll in the ORPP‎. (See below to reference the four waves)
  • Any employer that does not have a workplace pension plan, but sets up a comparable plan prior to its entrance Wave, will not be required to enroll in the ORPP.
  • Employers with a workplace pension plan who have employees who do not participate will be placed in Wave 4. By 2020, they will be required to have all employees participating in a comparable workplace pension plan, or have employees who are not in the comparable workplace pension plan, enrolled in the ORPP.
Enrollment in the ORPP will be staged in four waves

Wave 1 – Jan. 1, 2018: Employers with 500 or more employees without registered workplace pension plans
Wave 2 –Jan. 1, 2019: Employers with 50 to 499 employees without registered workplace pension plans
Wave 3 –Jan. 1, 2020: Employers with fewer than 50 employees without workplace pension plans
Wave 4 –Jan. 1, 2020: Employers with a workplace pension plan that’s not modified or adjusted to meet the comparability test as well as employees who aren’t member of the workplace’s comparable plan

Waiting Periods 

If a workplace pension plan has a waiting period provision before an employee can join the plan, both the employer and employee would be required to participate in the ORPP for the duration of the waiting period. To make things as easy as possible, you will likely want to consider a “No waiting Period” on the RPP.

Employee Eligibility

Definition of Employment and age
  • This definition of employment in Ontario is consistent with the Pension Benefits Act (PBA), and aligns with the definition of “province in which person deemed employed” under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). So if the employee falls under CPP, they will also have to be part of the RPP or ORPP.
Testing Comparability Threshold at Subset Level
A single pension plan often covers more than one group of employees and provides different benefit formulas, contribution rates and accrual rates for different groups of employees. A pension plan may provide for differences in contribution rates or benefit structures based on:
  • The nature of the member’s employment;
  • The terms of employment, years of service;
  • Whether or not the member belonged to a union; and/or other objective distinctions.
Members who belong to a subset would be subject to the same contribution or benefit structure, a total contribution of eight per cent of base salary earnings. Employers will also be required to contribute at least 50 per cent of the total minimum contribution, being at least four per cent.

To help put into perspective how the new ORPP differs from existing RPP's Continuum II has put together a chart that compares the two savings plans. To view the chart, click here.

Want more information on the new ORPP and how it affects your retirement plan, contact us today.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Transferring your life insurance it right for you?

Are you a Shareholder thinking of transferring your life insurance policy to a Private Corporation? Before taking action, you may want to consider the following..


As financial advisors, one of the most common question we get around this time of year is whether a TFSA or an RRSP is a better.  There isn’t any hard and fast answer. Both have pros and cons, but overall it depends on your own financial situation. Below is a chart that compares the two.

Primary Purpose
Saving for any purpose
Retirement savings, home purchase or education

Annual contribution limit
$5,500 PLUS amounts withdrawn in previous years
18% of previous year’s earned income (Max limits apply), less any pension adjustments

Not tax-deductible
Tax- deductible
Unused contribution room
Carried forward
Carried forward
You are not taxed on withdrawals.

Withdrawals do not affect federal income-tested government benefits such as Old Age Security
Withdrawals are taxed as income at your marginal rate.

Withdrawals are counted as income and may affect federal benefits such as Old Age Security

Withdrawn amounts
Added to contribution room in future years
Contribution room is lost for the amounts you withdraw

Plan maturity
None; no upper age limits on contributions

End of year when you turn 71
Spousal plan
You can contribute directly to a spousal RRSP

Eligible investments
You can hold savings accounts, GIC’s, mutual funds, segregated funds, stocks, bonds
You can hold savings accounts, GIC’s, mutual funds, segregated funds, stocks, bonds

Age Minimum

Want a better idea of which is better for you? Try TaxTips TFSA vs. RRSP calculator. This calculator can help give you a better idea of which is right for you based on your unique financial situation. The calculator can be found here: TFSA vs. RRSP calculator.

If you need advice on your savings plan, reach out to us today!